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Rupture of the Biceps Tendon

Located in front of the arm, the biceps muscle has tendons that attach it to the bones of the shoulder and elbow. This muscle helps you bend your elbows, keep your shoulders stable, and rotate your arms.

A rupture of the tendon

When there is a rupture of this tendon, you may lose a lot of the strength in your arm and find it difficult to turn the forearm or even face your palm upward. This is accompanied by a sudden and sharp pain in the arm and elbows, crackling sounds in the arm, pain in the muscles, and bruises, among other symptoms.

Biceps tendon rupture

Some people may find it easier to manage their daily activities with a torn bicep tendon owing to simple and effective treatments that relieve symptoms. However, others may require surgery.

To understand the characteristics of this injury and how you can alleviate the painful symptoms, please continue reading.

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The basics of the biceps tendon

There are two biceps tendons in the shoulder joint. A longer portion—the head of the biceps brachii—is found on the top of the shoulder (glenoid). Conversely, the shorter portion—the short head of the biceps brachii—is found in the anterior bony protrusion of the scapula (coracoid process).

The damage

Lesions in the biceps tendon can be either partial or complete. Injured tendons may often start to wear out well before people seek medical advice or begin complaining of shoulder pain.

An interesting observation is that anabolic steroids are often used by weightlifters. Abuse of such steroids may adversely affect the function of connective tissues and lead to tendon damage, ruptures, or lesions.

Time to seek treatment

It’s necessary to seek medical assistance and visit a specialist immediately after the injury has been sustained. You may think that the painful symptoms will subside and you can continue on with your activities, but this may lead to more severe and long-lasting damage.

If you don’t seek medical treatment right away, the tendon may break completely in the middle of a routine activity that requires more effort, such as lifting heavy objects.

Two attachment points

The biceps have two points of attachment on the shoulder. The long head of the biceps tendon is most likely to be injured. After all, the parts from the shoulder joint to the glenoid are most vulnerable to damage.

Damage to the short head of the biceps is comparatively uncommon. This is owing to the second fixation point that makes it difficult for people to use their biceps when the long head of the biceps is completely broken.

If the patient still damages or ruptures the biceps tendon, injuries may occur in other areas of the shoulder, like tendons of the rotator cuff.

Causes

Falling with the arm extended can cause the long portion of the biceps to break. Another common cause is lifting heavy weights and carrying objects above the capacity of your muscles.

Injuries of this type can also result from wear and tear over time, often experienced in old age. However, they can be aggravated by repetitive movements and overuse of the shoulders. These behavioral causes can trigger a series of problems in the region such as impact syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, and tendonitis.

Risk factors

  • Old age
  • Years of wear and tear from activities that force the shoulders
  • Carrying excessive weights in exercises that require rigorous shoulder movement
  • Sports that strain the shoulders such as swimming or volleyball
  • Nicotine smoking habits that affect tendon nutrition
  • Use of corticosteroid drugs that weaken muscles and tendons

Diagnosis

Shoulder pain or accidents that affect the shoulders may prompt you to seek medical assistance from an orthopedic specialist. Accurate diagnosis is vital for effective treatment and relies on various factors, such as medical history, diagnostic test reports, and physical examinations.

Complete breaks

When a complete rupture of the bicep tendons occurs, the affected area is visibly injured. In such obvious cases, the resulting deformity is often referred to as Popeye’s arm. Since you already have partial ruptures, our physical examination may involve asking you to bend your arms or tighten your biceps.

Radiographs

Although tendons cannot be seen through radiographs, they’re an important diagnostic tool in ruling out other possible causes of the symptoms. Radiographs rule out fractures and injuries, making it clear that tendon ruptures may be responsible.

Conversely, MRIs are a useful diagnostic tool to visualize these soft tissues.

Treatment

There are non-surgical and surgical treatments for biceps tendon ruptures. The former are more common in cases where the pain and weakness are not severe and have not become expressive. These treatments consist of ice pack applications, use of anti-inflammatories, and rest.

Surgical treatments are commonly applied to patients who require full recovery of their muscles and tendons, such as athletes or workers. There are various options and we may choose one that suits your needs best.

Post-surgical complications are rare and recovery may consist of physical therapy and resting the treated area.

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Unidade Higienópolis

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Unidade Higienópolis
A clínica Artroplastias do ortopedista em São Paulo, Dr. Felipe possui sala para acolher o paciente e família.

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Unidade Higienópolis

Sala para um exame ortopédico completo, cujo objetivo é o diagnóstico preciso. A indicação de uma artroplastia de quadril se baseia no estudo clínico e radiográfico cuidadoso do paciente.

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